Comedian and HBO host Bill Maher angered many by claiming the rise in LGBTQ+ young people is because queer identities are now "trendy."
Maher made the claim on his show Real Time with Bill Maher after citing a Gallup poll showing a stark increase in self-identified LGBTQ+ people in younger generations than older ones, as well as in different parts of the country.
Maher made little mention of the recent stark rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes nor the open hostility toward LGBTQ+ people and transgender people in particular in many parts of the country that both run counter to his "trendiness" claims.
Maher's claims have angered many, including panelists on his show who appeared uncomfortable and offended by his comments during the segment.
See the segment below.
In his comments, Maher acknowledged a more accepting society is surely part of the rise in self-identified LGBTQ+ people too, but also chalked it up to simple popularity.
"Yes, part of the rise in LGBT numbers is from people feeling free enough to tell it to a pollster and that’s all to the good, but some of it is — it’s trendy."
Maher then went on to cite regional differences in the number of transgender children as further evidence of his claim.
"If you attend a small dinner party of typically very liberal, upper-income Angelenos, it is not uncommon to hear parents who each have a trans kid having a conversation about that.
"What are the odds of that happening in Youngstown, Ohio?"
Maher then came so close to getting the real reason.
“If this spike in trans children is all natural, why is it regional? Either Ohio is shaming them or California is creating them."
It's probably more to do with the latter--places like Ohio where the political and legislative climates are hostile toward LGBTQ+ people have never been meccas of LGBTQ+ people for as long as modern out-and-proud LGBTQ+ people have existed.
This is why Los Angeles has been known as an LGBTQ+ mecca since at least the 1970s and Youngstown, Ohio never has. And it's almost certainly part of why there are so many more LGBTQ+ young people in LA than in Ohio. It's not that complicated.
Regardless, Maher insisted that "trendiness" is the real determining factor.
"It’s like that day we suddenly all needed bottled water all the time."
"If we can admit that in certain enclaves there is some level of trendiness to the idea of being anything other than straight, then this is not a serious science-based discussion."
Okay then, Dr. Bill Maher, PhD.
On Twitter, many people were enraged by Maher's comments.
The February Gallup poll Maher cited in his segment showed a rise to 7.1% of the U.S. population self-identifying as LGBTQ+, a percentage has doubled over the past 10 years.